Jack Fisher Jr. Memorial Sculpture Garden
The Jack Fisher Jr. Memorial Sculpture Garden Mission
The Jack Fisher Jr. Memorial Sculpture Garden combines art and beckoning spaces to welcome and engage visitors and students alike with both permanent and rotating exhibitions. The garden is an extension of the Dahl Gallery’s intent to bring original work to the school and community at large.
The Jack Fisher Jr. Memorial Sculpture Garden Annual Exhibit Schedule
Permanent collection and rotating exhibits will be vetted and approved by the sitting garden committee which will be composed of faculty, custodial staff, administration, and community members. Diversity, equality, accessibility, and inclusion will be considered in vetting works.
Fall: New approved works by adult artists will be installed for the academic year.*
Spring: New approved student works will replace or augment works from the previous year.
*Installation of new professional work will depend on availability and funding. Ideally, an artist in residence will install and work with art students in the fall.
Mission and Exhibition Schedule Approved by Committee May 2023
The Jack Fisher Jr. Memorial Sculpture Garden was established in 2006. Jack Fisher Jr. was a long-time art teacher at Great Falls High who had succumbed to cancer. His twenty-five year tenure with GFPS ran from 1981-2006. He was not only a loved art teacher, but an active artist known for his involvement with the Caravan Project and his unique collage pins. Below you will find one of his images advertising his pins.
In 1990, a gallery was created inside the school and was dedicated to Normand T. Dahl, another long-time GFH art specialist who also died of cancer, so a precedent had been set to honor past art educators in this fashion. In 2010, great improvements were made to the sculpture garden with the wonderful donation of landscaping by the GFH Class of 1970. The landscaping was designed by, and materials purchased from Forde's. At some point between the development of the garden and 2015 the historic stone wall around the house on 3rd and 20th partially fell. At that time, the garden committee, in hopes of salvaging the material, brought the stones over to the garden with the property owner's blessing. They were used as accent points within the garden and used to establish a border along the north/south walkway with the intent of creating a perimeter denoting the special space. In 2015, after I joined the staff, we started meeting to discuss signage, garden maintenance, and improvements. We decided to establish a goal to have the improvements made by June 2016 and to host a dedication ceremony on the ten-year anniversary of the garden's establishment, which we met. The art department used some of their fundraising proceeds to purchase new gravel and a grant was written to the Out West Foundation, who funded the metal for the arch. Wet Jet Extreme in Black Eagle donated their expertise and equipment to laser jet the signage and imagery into the metal arch. One of our art teachers at the time, Aleatha Ballard, scanned Jack Fisher Juniors's signature and one of his iconic images, a winged dachshund, to design the imagery and text that was cut into the metal by Wet Jet Extreme. Our GFPS grounds staff did the installation, and the dedication was held in June 2016.
Between 2016 and 2019 the garden became a major thoroughfare as students had to migrate between main and south campus along 20th Street down to 5th to enter south campus while the HUB was under construction. During that time, the cables from the archway were removed to expand the passage. Even with all the traffic, the garden was still being maintained, even hosting a large celebration for Lyle Omeasoo, an exhibiting Blackfeet artist in the Dahl Gallery in September 2019. The celebration included a fry bread taco dinner, traditional drumming, and some of our Great Falls High fancy dancers. Of course, we know that all things as we knew them ceased in the spring of 2020 with the COVID-19 pandemic. Staff weren't even allowed on campus, while staff and students were off campus. Bond-funded upgrades to the main campus continued, including driving heavy equipment through the garden to deliver materials to the rooftop above the music area. In addition to the upheavals of the pandemic and construction, our department saw three faculty come in go in less than two years with gaps between midyear hires with rotating subs. During that time, little to no maintenance occurred. However, I am pleased to report that we are back to two, full-time, dedicated, stable faculty and have gotten the garden committee back up and running and have gotten our new administration up to speed as well. At the end of last year, 2021/2022, we spent time out with students trimming, raking, etc. Our principal, Geff Habel, committed to funding new bark and new gravel for our August 2022 work date to spruce up the garden before the 2022/2023 academic year begins.
The garden is maintained by the GFH Art Department and is overseen by Jack Fisher Jr. Memorial Sculpture Garden Committee that meets periodically. The committee is made up of GFH staff with community representation as well.
GFH is proud to have a professional gallery and dedicated sculpture garden for its students, staff, and community.